Duke University’s Arguments Against A Statutory Second Amendment

Herschel Smith · 22 May 2022 · 14 Comments

The Regulatory Review links a paper by Joseph Blocher of Duke University arguing against state preemption laws that prohibit more restrictive gun control statutes by cities and counties than instituted by the state itself.  The paper is entitled "Cities, Preemption, and the Statutory Second Amendment." He argues: As a practical matter, though, nothing has done more to shape contemporary gun regulation than state preemption laws, which fully or partially eliminate cities’ ability to…… [read more]

Rob Pincus On Gun Purchase Background Checks

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 3 months ago

I have not seen a significant number of things eye-to-eye with Rob Pincus.  I’ll offer one brief example, i.e., shouldering stabilizing braces on AR pistols.  I recall Rob’s counsel of his viewers and readers not to shoulder stabilizing braces (this was before the latest ATF “interpretation”), and his reluctance (and even refusal) to do videos showing such tactics.

On the other hand, I have long said that you should do what feels natural and what you find necessary.  There are many legitimate reasons for firearms ownership: sporting, range shooting, competition precision shooting, self defense, collecting, and on and on the reasons could go.  It’s no more the business of the state to interest itself in your what firearms you own than what forks you have in your kitchen drawers, or how or why you have them.

But if you have a firearm with which you intend the use of home defense, and it has a stabilizing brace, if you need to shoulder the weapon to best use it, then do so.  Your responsibility is to your own life and the lives of your loved ones, not an ATF interpretation.

So I have had a difficult time trusting Rob, for whatever reason.  This latest commentary at Ammoland adds to that mistrust.  He co-authored a piece on common ground with Dan Gross, Former President of the Brady Campaign.  I will quote extensively.

Although many other issues have understandably dominated the news cycle, we are at a critical moment for guns. Over the last year, gun sales have reached unprecedented levels, as have gun-involved homicides, and the House has recently passed H.R. 1446, The Enhanced Background Check Act of 2021, which is currently being debated in the Senate. Recently, a wave of tragic mass shootings has put the gun issue in national headlines as President Biden has called on the Senate to pass the background check bill, adding that he supports a ban of “assault weapons.”

We are two advocates, activists and leaders from opposite sides of the “gun debate” who have come together because we both believe we are at a make-or-break moment. Suffice it to say, there is plenty that we disagree on, but for anyone with the genuine goal of reducing the number of preventable gun deaths in our nation, we believe we have an opportunity for real impact that has not existed in years and, if we are not able to seize it, it is likely to have negative repercussions for years to come.

Stop there.  This is strong language.  It means that Rob thinks that unless the policy recommendations that we are forthwith to read in the commentary are implemented, there will be negative repercussions.  No one is holding a gun to Rob’s head.  He appears to desire what we are about to read.  There seems to be no other reason to suspect that we need to “seize” the opportunity before us (Biden is president, the senate is split).

To expect meaningful and lasting change, we must first change the entire conversation, from one defined by politics to one defined by our common values and goals. This is not just a matter of deciding whether to call it “gun control,” “gun violence prevention,” “responsible gun ownership” or “gun safety.” It is about advocates, leaders and the media considering, far more than they have in the past, the narrative they are helping to create. It is about those who really care about impact, changing that narrative from one that is too-often divisive and counterproductive to one that genuinely unites the American public and provides the foundation that is necessary for real, lasting and fundamental change.

I have a bit of an issue with the notion of having “common goals” with progressives.  Philosopher Cornelius Van Til flatly debunked the idea that Christians can have a common goal or common starting point with unbelievers.  Now, this isn’t a theological debate, but the point is salient.  One doesn’t come into a conversation with neutrality.  There is always a set of presuppositions involved.  For the progressive, this is it.

The only way we can truly be safe and prevent further gun violence is to ban civilian ownership of all guns. That means everything. No pistols, no revolvers, no semiautomatic or automatic rifles. No bolt action. No breaking actions or falling blocks. Nothing. This is the only thing that we can possibly do to keep our children safe from both mass murder and common street violence.

Unfortunately, right now we can’t. The political will is there, but the institutions are not. Honestly, this is a good thing. If we passed a law tomorrow banning all firearms, we would have massive noncompliance. What we need to do is establish the regulatory and informational institutions first. This is how we do it.  The very first thing we need is national registry. We need to know where the guns are, and who has them.

This is true at least for the commoner.  For the controller, they want a monopoly on violence.  This is the starting point.  There is no common ground with them.  But we must continue.

Fortunately, the policy area with the most synergistic message is also the one that represents what we believe is the greatest potential for impact: Expanded Background Checks. The overwhelming majority of gun owners have already accepted that anyone engaged in the business of selling guns commercially, should be required to conduct a background check. At the same time the two of us believe that many private transfers, such as gifting a gun to a family member or letting a fellow member of a gun club borrow a firearm for a competition or hunting event should be legal and remain a private transaction outside of government regulation. We believe any expansion of the Background Check requirement should be focused on transfers to strangers. Sure, there are some important details to work out around exceptions such as specific definitions of “strangers,” and exceptions that would make it impossible for the government to compile a comprehensive list of gun owners; but we are confident that there are solutions that can make a huge impact if we stick to the principle and message of only keeping guns from the people we all agree shouldn’t have them. This is also how to “walk the walk” in terms of demonstrating that we are not trying to limit gun ownership among responsible gun owners and how to give substance and true credibility to the claim of respecting gun owners and the Second Amendment.

It’s wrapped up in nice words like “Expanded Background Checks.”  It’s padded to reduce the impact.  The claim is made up front that people support it, which if true, would obviate the need to say it all the time.

But make no mistake about it, Rob Pincus has come out in favor of universal background checks.  He, along with the former president of the Brady Campaign, supports it.

Thus Rob has in a single commentary thrown away what little he had left of his credibility as a defender of the RKBA.  I’m sure he’ll go on with his tactical training business, but for me, I do not see him as a credible defender of liberty.

For the record, I support the liberty to conduct person-to-person transfers of firearms of any sort.  We had this discussion at the dinner table a few nights ago, and I laid it out at the beginning by saying that I believe felons have a RKBA.  They have as much right to self defense as I do.

Eyes opened wider, and I explained what we all know to be true.  If a felon cannot be trusted to own a firearm, then a felon cannot be let out of prison to purchase fertilizer at the local Tractor Supply.  Besides which, felons guilty of murder, rape or kidnapping should be executed.

So, I suspect, ends the relationship of the 2A community with Rob.  I hope it was worth it for him.

UPDATE: I see that the editor has found it necessary to “apologize” for printing the article.  A quick note to the editorial staff.  Don’t worry about it.  If you publish enough, you’ll offend someone.  Ask me how I know?  I found this commentary useful even if I didn’t agree with its contents.  It’s useful because I know where Rob stands now.  That means you did the right thing.


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